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Meet the Pacers

7 Minute Pace Group

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Ken Brooks
I have run roughly 80 marathons, 25 halfs, and 6 RBR 25Ks. I have also paced more than 50 marathons and numerous halfs all over North America. In the recent past, I was a sponsored distance runner and have run many races as an elite over the better half of a decade. I've been able to meet all my goals as a distance runner except one...to complete 100 marathons. I enjoy pacing and motivating runners to achieve their goals. Running has been such a blessing in my life and I want to continue, through pacing, to spread the love of the my sport to everyone.

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Hank Risley
Hello! I grew up the uncoordinated kid who struggled miserably in sports. In my late 30's, I started to run consistently and found that with a little work ethic I could roll along ok. I had a few heady years, racing a lot and trying to outrun the other "old guys." (MI Runner of the year-2008, MI Master's Runner of the year-2014). In more recent times, I've learned to enjoy the health benefits, camaraderie and friendships developed through consistent reasonable running.   I truly enjoy pacing and am excited to be back out again this year. I look forward to helping you achieve your running goal!

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Ben Semeyn
Working to help other runners reach their finish time goals is an amazing experience. I've been fortunate enough over the years to pace many local events from half marathons, to full marathons, and it is always amazing. Hearing the stories of other runners and sharing my own as we work to click off the miles always leaves me feeling inspired.

7:30 Minute Pace Group

Peter Burrill
I am an ultra runner.  I've been running now for over 30 years and have paced the Kzoo Marathon, River Bank Run 2 Hour Club, Winter Blast 1/2 Marathon, Glass City Marathon and Capital City Marathon. Last year to celebrate turning 50, I ran the Midwest Super Slam, a series of 5-100 mile races in 4 months. I coach track and cross country and really enjoy pacing to encourage and help others obtain their goals. This year I am running the Georgia Death Race, Indiana 100, Pacing the Kzoo Marathon, Pacing River Bank Run (possibly running Bayshore), running the Mohican 100, the Marquette 100m (invitation only) and on the waiting list for the Barkley Fall Classic 50k. 

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Kyle Snell
Hello runners!! I want to introduce myself as one of the members of the pacing team. I think of pacing as a privilege, in which I have the opportunity to try and help people obtain a new running goal. I truly enjoy running as a hobby and have completed in a handful of marathons. My favorite running memories have been participating in the Boston Marathon (three times: 2013-2105).  As for my personal life, I feel very blessed to have a job working for Spectrum Health in Grand Haven. I practice family and sports medicine. My true passion is in sports and preventative medicine and this job has allowed me to pursue these interests. In my free time away from work, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. Also, I really enjoy running with my girlfriend Abby who I am always trying to keep up with :-)   Enjoy the race and your adventures that come with it! 

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Aaron Velting
I have been an athlete all of my life. I have run many race distances from 5k to Marathon. When I'm not running, you'll find me in the pool or on my bike.. as a triathlete and enjoy the different disciplines that multisport has to offer. I run with a few good friends early mornings as to balance the balance of family, work and home. I have always been a goal setter, a BIG goal setter and will gladly put the work in to accomplish what I set out to. While I enjoy the sense of personal accomplishment, even more so, I enjoy watching, running, swimming, lifting weights, you name it.. alongside my fellow athletes...encouraging, pushing and doing anything I can to help them reach their own goals. I desire to run as a pacer in the Fifth Third Riverbank run to give back to the local community in which I live, to encourage others around me while using my own talent to help fellow athletes. I am a strong believer that our ability is for not, if we aren't using it to give back to others. What better way! This is what running is all about!

2 Hour Pace Group

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Zack Weber
First and foremost the 5/3 River Bank Run is my favorite race! I started distance running as a junior in high school by completing my first full marathon. I did the marathon because people were saying it was something I could not do as a junior in high school.  While I may have not been the fastest, I persevered through it.  I hope to take that ability to push through a challenge, even when others seem against you, and turn it into a positive experience. Since that race I have continued to run marathons and expanded my endurance events to include triathlons as well. I have a racing resume that is quite extensive containing 16 marathon finishes and 5 full iron triathlon finishes. With all of this experience, I know that I have a thing or two I could teach novice, or even a veteran, runner. I like to use my experiences and knowledge to help others reach their goals.

In 2014, I paced my first ever race at the 5/3 River Bank Run and it was one of my favorite races to date. There is nothing better than encouraging other athletes on the course and really helping someone dig deep to get a time they never thought possible or that they have been training for all winter.  I continued to pace in the 2015 River Bank Run as well and it just as been a rewarding experience. Since those opportunities, I have paced individuals through races as well as other local races. I see it as my way to give back, and I love to give back to my favorite local race!

So I hope to see you out on the course. I can give you a friendly “good job” or other type of encouragement so that you can hit the goal time you wish to have. We can dig deep and get it together!

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Andrew Buikema
I got back into running about 4 years ago after a long time of inactivity and gaining an enormous amount of weight. I ran in high school, but then stopped through college and my first several years in my professional life. I led a very unhealthy lifestyle of eating and zero activity. I finally decided to turn my life around and get back in to running. My brother paced me at my first marathon and pushed my harder than I could have imagined. It was then that I realized that I need to keep doing this if I am going to set the example for my two daughters. 

I am more than excited to have renewed this love of running. I run for my girls (12 and 9), I run for my wife, I run for a mental release, I run for me and enjoyment and accomplishment of others as a pacer to achieve their goals.

I have had the pleasure of pacing for several races in Michigan, Illinois and South Carolina…with that experience I have also taken over the Race Director job for the Mercy Health Seaway Run / Lake Michigan Half Marathon, pace director for the Rivertown Half, Charlevoix Half / Full and assisting with the Fifth Third River Bank Run pacers. I am also a member of the Grand Haven Running Club (Grand Haven, MI) and love the camaraderie that all runners share.  Everyone has a story and it’s awesome getting to know them, who they are and WHY they run. Looking forward to helping you on race day!

 

8:00 Minute Pace Group

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Scott VanLoo
I'm a husband, a father to two amazing and active boys, an experienced IT leader, a wellness advocate and a runner. Either it be 5K to 100 milers, I enjoy all distances and adventures that surround running. I started running on a treadmill in 2008 to help shed the 'baby weight' that I gained while my wife was pregnant with our second child. Then in 2009, my sister-in-law challenged me to a 5K. Well fast forward to today and I've successfully finished around 33 marathons and 28 ultra marathons.

​Since 2009, I've accomplished my PRs in several distances but found that as father time tacks on years some goals are beginning to be more of a challenge. What I have found to help achieve the levels of adventures and personal bests is to surround yourself with others that are targeting the same goal. There is a reason why in the ultra world that many use crew/pacers for those final stages of the race. Sure the pacer is there to help keep a possible finishing target in check but they're also there to help motivate, possibly distract and more importantly re-enforce the passion that we all have...to finish proud, to finish strong, to finish what you have started.

I'm truly excited to share that 'toe the line' opportunity with you the morning of May 13th. If you are feeling like you've hit a wall during the race, just ask me about my Burning River 100 mile race in 2015 or my first marathon in 2010 at Chicago and how running with a temperature is interesting.  Hopefully these stories will help you push through that wall so you'll have an absolutely amazing race. As my good friend Ralph always says, gotta run. vanloorunning.com

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David Seeley
I have run several half marathons and lots of full marathons and PR'd in the full this year with a time of 3:11 40 at the ripe age of 47. I have paced several races and is always a thrill to help someone else push themself to a new PR or Boston qualifier.

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Scott Perkins
I started running about 10 years ago for health reasons, just short distances. I thought distance runners were crazy. I was right, WE ARE CRAZY. I ran my first full marathon 7 years ago and was hooked. I've been running and pacing a variety of races since then. Pacing is something I've been doing for around 5 years. It's a blast helping people achieve their goals.

8:30 Minute Pace Group

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John Pauley
Running gave me the opportunity to get in shape and lose weight. When I approached 300 pounds, I decided I would sign up for a 5K every weekend. I became hooked and started upping my distances. I have done 3 marathons now and will be doing my 4th this December in Alabama. I enjoy seeing other people embrace running because I've seen what it has done for me. Becoming a pacer is a great way of giving back to the running community and helping out those with their goals. 

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Marty Jones
Hello!!! About 4 years ago, I seriously got back into running. After baby #1 I found myself with too much recently gained baby weight. I was inspired by my wife and her running ventures. Since then, I continue to set new PR's and increase mileage. In the last year I ran my a half, the River Bank Run 25K, and my 1st and 2nd marathon! Next year in the 25K I WILL make the 2 Hour Club, unless of course, I'm chosen for another pace group.

I've always been inspired by the pace teams, the excitement they bring to the River Bank Run. I want the personify that and help others hit their race pace, PRs and encourage fellow runners to cross the finish line.

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Charles Fritz
I have a love for distance running and pacing of others. The best way to give back to the amazing running community is through pacing and helping others achieve their goals. I have run dozens of marathons and ultras but my favorite races include pacing for races or individuals. Come join our pace group for some marathon running fun!!

9 Minute Pace Group

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Kaitlin Wood
I've grown up in the Grand Rapids area my whole life and have been a part of the annual River Bank Run for as long as I can remember... volunteering as a kid and running the 5K through my college years and early 20s. In 2012, I needed a new challenge in life and at that time a 10K wasn't available so I jumped right into my first 25K River Bank Run. Also realizing that this wasn't an easy goal, I joined the local running group, RunGR, to help me train. I was lucky enough to have my RunGR coach be the two hour pacer that year and not only did he help me finish the 25K, he pushed me to go ahead and to this day, that was was my best 25K yet. I've accomplished so many great running goals over the years thanks to pacers, even competing in the 2014 Boston Marathon and now just completing my first 50K; it's time to give back to the race that gave me my distance start.

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Hannah Livermore
I always wanted to be a runner, but never had the motivation or drive. Once I started, with endless support from my running community, running became a lifestyle! After my first marathon, receiving a Boston qualifier, I signed up to for the 2013 Boston Marathon! Unfortunately, my experience there turned into a nightmare. Emotionally scarred, with PTSD, I had to rely on running peers for support. I signed up for races, no longer to compete and enjoy the thrill, but for exposure at the finish. Racing no longer brought joy, but panic attacks. During the past year, in order to try to overcome this, I have taken the focus off of competing, and put more energy towards helping others. Having the opportunity to pace both the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and the River Bank Run this past year, gave me a new purpose for running - helping other runners reach their goals. I hope to share my support and enthusiasm, and make the race a great experience from start to finish!

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Trevor Wood
The running scene has not always been my hangout. I started in the middle of 2012, training for the Grand Rapids half marathon had some good results, people congratulated me, and this spurred me on to continuing my training through the winter. Year after year I have achieved either a new PR, or race distance which drives me to excel beyond myself. But there was something missing. A part of me wanted to give back to the community which I partake in, and so I decided to pace a few races I care about and join a few race committees to help further the racing scene. Here I am today hoping I have the chance to make sure you beat your goals you set out to accomplish! #KeepMoving

9:30 Minute Pace Group

Michelle Snay
I am your typical adult-onset runner. I began running in 2010 when I signed up for a 5k, not having any idea how much it would change my life. I crossed the finish line, and immediately went home and signed up for another. Less than 3 months after that 5k, I finished my first half marathon. It was official – I was hooked. And, after over 35 races half marathon distance or longer, I am still just as hooked!
It’s hard to say exactly why people get addicted to running. For one, there’s nothing that compares to the positivity and support around the running community. Also, the feeling of accomplishment of setting a PR is unmatched. A finish line is symbolic to overcoming adversity in your life. It’s doing something that you never thought you could do – surmounting a distance that once seemed impossible. Or maybe I just like being able to drink Two Hearted Ale without feeling overly guilty about it. (It really is the best beer in the world.)

I’ve had the great pleasure and opportunity of pacing many races, and I can honestly say that the experience of being a pacer and helping others achieve their goals are some of my favorite running memories, and looking forward to making more!

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Ken DeBack
My first race was the first River Bank Run in 1978. I have run a multitude of races since then. I volunteered at a race for the first time in 2002. This experience gave me a whole new perspective. I stated pacing in 2006 and have been a pacer for the marathon, the half marathon, and the River Bank Run.

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Linnae Satterlee
I have been distance running for 6 years now, and I ran with pace groups for my very first half marathon, full marathon, and River Bank Run. Those pacers were my lifeline, and literally got me to the finish line in one piece. After several years of improving my speed and chasing goals, I wanted to give back. Last year I paced at the River Bank Run for the first time, and it was the most amazing experience! Running with a group of people and helping them achieve their race goals was one of the most satisfying and uplifting things I have done! I want to pace this iconic Grand Rapids race again next year- and share stories, entertainment and laughter with a group of runners, while helping them reach the finish line and achieve their goal :) The smiles on their faces as that medal gets draped around their neck is all the satisfaction that I need!

10 Minute Pace Group

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Alana Matyas-Brower
Hello my name is Alana Matyas-Brower and I’m almost 31 years young and have been running for about 10 years now. I’m interested in pacing the Fifth Third River Bank Run after having had so much fun “officially” pacing my first half marathon last summer. It was such a blast to meet new runners on race day but also meeting the other pacers and runners on our training runs leading up to the event. My first half marathon pacing was absolutely beautiful…and then the Michigan humidity set in with some hot temps and wowzers! Shift gears. I immediately began thinking to myself “How am I going to get my herd and myself to the finish line on target?”. Well we got to tell 2 hills some REALLY nice things, we enjoyed popsicles at the top of a hill before we took advantage of some downhill speed. We smiled up at the trees and thanked them when we finally got relief from the sunshine. We high fived the local residents who set up sprinklers for us and thanked all the volunteers as we hydrated before heading back into the sun. Without a tree in sight but the finish line near, we talked about the imaginary food & beer dangling in front of us to try and our minds off the heat. When the the finish was near- we high tailed it and ran in strong! Everyone that finished that race EARNED those medals and it is so much fun to be a part of someone else’s race story. Its remarkable to me to get the biggest, most meaningful hug at the finish line from a runner you just met! 

Every race has its obstacles and it is so discouraging to struggle on race day after weeks and weeks of training. However, it is encouraging on race day to know that there is a set team of pacers on race day whose priorities are not their own but rather their goal is to help other runners to the finish line. I’m that girl and I’m going to be your cheerleader to the finish line! Maybe I’m your rabbit that you want to beat or just try to catch up to. Whatever your goal may be, my goal is to make sure you have a fun and safe race. I’ll be there smiling, laughing and having the best time with my fellow pace team! Look for me in a pacer shirt with a herd of other runners talking, laughing, chanting at mile markers, and yelling up those hills. I’m here to be your personal tour guide and cheerleader for this year’s 25k! Happy Running!

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Ryan Wasson
I started running to lose some weight and do a 5k with my sister. Little did I know it would change my life! I love running with friends both on roads and trails. And love the friendships I have made along the way. 

 

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Melissa Blackmer
Running over the years has become a way of life for me. It helps me to be a better wife, mother and overall better person. It's my "me" time and as a mother you rarely get those moments. I picked up running to get in shape and to set a positive example for my girls. I fell in love with the sense of accomplishment that came with pushing my body to do things that I once thought was impossible. It's amazing what your body and mind can do!  That past three years I've been able to be a pacer for the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K run and I love being able to encourage fellow runners. It's such a privilege to help and encourage fellow runners to cross the finish line!  

11 Minute Pace Group

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Jan-Al Robinson
I love to run but didn’t discover it until I was almost thirty. I believe you are never too old to find a new passion. I am truly passionate about running and feel it has changed my life. I have run 1 Ultra Marathon, 40+ marathons and lots of other distances including a 200 mile relay I am the team captain for every year. I also dabble in triathalons and duathalons to mix it up. My PR for a marathon is a 3:55 and PR for a half marathon is a 1:50. I have paced a number of races and find it to be incredibly rewarding. To support and give back to others in a sport I love is an amazing feeling. I am a member of the 50 States Club and I am a Marathon Maniac. To date, I have completed marathons in 23 states and love to travel. I find the best way to truly see a city is by foot.

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Amy Rempalski 
I am a former anti-runner! After despising it for many years I started dabbling into running again after my 30th birthday. Little did I know that I was going to develop a love for running, and then pacing. I became a pacer for the first time at the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K in 2012. Since then I have paced four full marathons (including two marathons where I paced the second half), four more 25K's and nine half marathons, so it is easy to tell that I love to pace! Running has brought some pretty awesome people into my life and I enjoy sharing my love of running with others. I have been through some challenges in my running journey, so I never hesitate to offer kind words and encouragement when needed, maybe a song or a bad joke for good measure. A 25K is a significant accomplishment and I know how much work you all put in to train for this, so I'm happy to help you to reach your goals in any way I can. I will see you at the starting line and guide you to the finish with a smile (yes, smile) on your face! 

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Janice Schuurmans
I have been pacing for 3 years and I love it! I started running when I was in high school and enjoyed running 5Ks for many years but I started getting older (and slower) and discovered the fun of running half and full marathons. I now like to do as many runs as I can fit in. The Fifth Third River Bank Run is so much fun! This is my third year pacing it and my eighth year running it. The 25K is a great distance. :) I look forward to meeting and cheering you on as we run together!

12 Minute Pace Group

Andie Ruhlig
Although I began running track and cross country in school, it was not until much later in life that I found myself through running. I have completed five full marathons, numerous half marathons and 25K, along with the occasional 5K and 10k. Running is so much more than a physical activity for me; it calms the soul, focuses the mind, and exhausts the body. My ability to persevere through all life's obstacles is a direct result of my running.

Being a pacer is a perfect fit for me. I have a non-competitive spirit and derive great satisfaction helping others achieve their goals. As in life, when you help others and put their needs before your own, you find your troubles and discomforts seem to fade into the background. I believe the best way to a happy life is through the giving of one's self.

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Kelly Machiorlatti
I started running distance races in 1999 after being spurred on by a friend to do the Chicago marathon (yep---that was my first race). From there I kind of caught the competitive bug and began participating in triathlons and trail races to add some spice to my running fun. I have paced many half marathons and one marathon and I love helping people achieve their goals. I live in Grand Rapids, MI with my two dogs and I work as a health and wellness coach. I believe exercise saves lives ... and sanity, and makes a better world. Healthy body, healthy mind, happy people…better world! 

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Christina Fong
I am a professional musician. Music is my life, my work and my passion. Running has helped me remain fit and meet the physical demands and endurance that is required for my work as a musician.
I have completed many races, but there are two that stick out in my mind; my first Riverbank Run and my first marathon (Chicago). Though I ran much faster races in years to come, nothing will ever match the firsts. Finishing my first Riverbank Run was in my mind, the defining moment. I am officially a distance runner. This was what gave me the confidence to fulfill a childhood dream of running a marathon, a dream I almost completely forgot about over the years.
When I was a small child, I saw Frank Shorter on a black and white television win the silver in the Montreal Olympics. I wondered why there was no women's marathon event. Back then the conventional wisdom was that women could not run that far or would hurt themselves doing so. Even as a kid, I thought Frank Shorter did not look like he was having an easy time, and I was quite sure anyone (man or woman) could do this without hurting themselves if they went slow enough. Anyway, that was my logic and now my motto. This is why I love to pace and why I really like to pace the slower groups. It is not only because I am a slower runner, but because slower groups are where you will find many first-timers. I want to see people be as happy and joyful as I was when I finished those races for the very first time.

Fifth Third River Bank Run

PO Box 2194
Grand Rapids, MI  49501-2194
616.771.1590   |   runinfo@53riverbankrun.com

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